Wisconsin Historical Society

Guide or Instruction

Legally Dispose of Obsolete Records

Legally Dispose of Obsolete Records | Wisconsin Historical Society

The Wisconsin Historical Society has statutory responsibility to collect, maintain and make available for use permanently valuable records of Wisconsin's local governments and court system. Wisconsin Statute 19.21(5)(d) and Supreme Court Rule 72.04 require notification to the Society 60 days prior to the destruction of obsolete public records.

The appropriate officer of a county, municipality, town, school district or court must notify the Wisconsin Historical Society in writing at least 60 days in advance of the destruction of any public record. To comply with the law, local governments can follow this procedure:

  • Retain the records for at least the minimum period of time required by statute or ordinance.
  • Notify the Wisconsin Historical Society that the municipality, town, county, or school district intends to destroy the records.
    • Notification is required before the destruction of any record.
    • Notification must be made in writing at least 60 days before destruction.
    • Notification letter should include the following information (Court Clerks should use form GF-110 "Notification to the State Historical Society"):
      • Titles of each record series to be destroyed.
      • Years covered by the records
      • Volume of records.
      • Name and phone number of a knowledgeable person who could answer questions about the use and content of the records.
      • Direct notification letter to:

        Matt Blessing, State Archivist
        Wisconsin Historical Society 
        816 State Street 
        Madison, WI  53706-1482
  • The Wisconsin Historical Society will respond in writing, usually one of three ways:
    • Declining to acquire the records.
    • Declining to acquire the records and providing a waiver to the local government to dispose of these categories of records in the future without further notification.
    • Expressing the Historical Society's interest in acquiring the records and making arrangements for transfer.

Have Questions?

To transfer records or inquire about the disposal of records, contact Andrew Baraniak, Local Government Records Archivist, at (608) 264-6469, or at the email below.